One interesting bit of Easton (Md.) history is located right across South Lane from the Bartlett Pear Inn (formerly the Hambleton House, built in 1790 by Benjamin Stevens). On the corner of South Lane and Harrison Street is a stone marker with the Roman numerals XXIII carved into it. This marker is from the original survey of the town in 1786 by a group including John Stevens (Benjamin’s father). The marker denotes Lot 23. Benjamin Stevens bought lots 24-26 on which the Bartlett Pear Inn now sits. (Photos by Missy Corley)
The building that is now the Bartlett Pear Inn was once one of the grandest homes in downtown Easton. Its storied past includes a U.S. Congressman, a bishop, a love story* and even a treasure chest. There are still further connections to a state governor and a War of 1812 hero.
(*the love story involves neither the bishop nor the Congressman.)
Built in 1790, the mansion was constructed of pink brick by Benjamin Stevens, the son of a prominent Eastonian and the brother of future Governor of Maryland Samuel Stevens, Jr. Benjamin died only four years after completing the house, which then went to his father, John Stevens. John Stevens also passed away a short time later.
The house changed hands several times before being bought in 1845 by Samuel Hambleton, an Easton lawyer who would become a U.S. Congressman (1869-1873). He was the nephew of a famous U.S. Navy purser (also by the name of Samuel Hambleton) who played a vital role in the U.S. War of 1812.
The house remained in the Hambleton family for more than 100 years. Samuel Hambleton passed away peacefully in one of the upstairs bedrooms in 1886, according to a hand-written account by his son James in a family history book.
Col. Samuel Hambleton was a Southern sympathizer and his son James fought in the Civil War for the Confederacy. James was captured at Gettysburg and released from Fort Delaware a short time later.
James also was a central player in a love story connected with the property. According to an article in the Easton Star-Democrat, James fell in love with Ms. Anna Jones of Howard County, Md., after Anna came to Easton to visit her sister, who lived behind the Hambleton home. “It was quite a romance, it is related, and the engagement was one of the social affairs of Easton at the time,” states the article.
James P. Hambleton passed away in 1888, followed by his wife in 1921. Their daughters, Nannie and Amy, then inherited the property. Nannie, who lived in the home, passed away there in 1962. Shortly thereafter, a small black chest was discovered underneath one of the staircases in the home. It contained the personal papers of Purser Samuel Hambleton and his medal for bravery during his service in the War of 1812.
After Nannie’s death, the house left the Hambleton family and was converted into apartments. It was known as the Hambleton Apartments from then until the 1990s, when the building was converted into a bed and breakfast.
At one point, according to the Easton Star-Democrat, a Bishop Adams resided on the property shortly after being named bishop of the Easton diocese. This was probably Bishop William Forbes Adams, second bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton, who served from 1887 to 1920.
The property was included in the 1967 Historic American Building Survey, which described the home as a large, dignified Georgian mansion with very elaborate cornices and crown molding. The survey notes, “The brick work is excellent … It is a fine and well-proportioned structure.” The property at one time had a frame addition used as a law office by the Hambletons, but this was moved across the street before the addition that exists today was built.
A huge thank you to the staff at the Talbot County Free Library Maryland Room and at the Historical Society of Talbot County — both are worthwhile stops in Easton. Also thanks to Alice and Jordan Lloyd at the Bartlett Pear Inn for the chance to work on this project!
UPDATE: read and see more about the Hambleton House at these subsequent blog posts:
For God and Country — The Hambleton Family of Maryland, September 10-October 30, 1988, The Historical Society of Talbot County, binder: “Family Genealogies Haddaway – Harris”; Maryland Room, Talbot County Free Library, Easton, Maryland.
Harrison, Samuel Alexander. History of Talbot County, Maryland, 1661-1861, Volume 1. 1915. Digital images. Google Books. http://books.google.com : 2007.
Historic American Building Survey Inventory, 29 August 1967, folder: “Easton-Historic Houses,” vertical files; Maryland Room, Talbot County Free Library, Easton, Maryland.
Ludlow, Cynthia Beatty. Historic Easton. Easton, Md.: Historic Easton, Inc., 1979.
Maryland, Talbot County. Land Records. Office of the Clerk, Circuit Court, Easton.
Maryland, Talbot County. Will Book 13. Office of the Clerk, Circuit Court, Easton.
Maryland, Talbot County. Will Book 14. Office of the Clerk, Circuit Court, Easton.
“Some Early Views of Easton Taken Over Half a Century Ago,” Easton Star-Democrat, 23 May 1936; folder: “Easton-Historic Houses,” vertical files; Maryland Room, Talbot County Free Library, Easton, Maryland.
The Political Graveyard. Index to Politicians. http://politicalgraveyard.com : 2009.
Weeks, Christopher. Where Land and Water Intertwine. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.
While reading old newspaper abstracts for a client project, I came across this gem of an exchange between a quarreling husband and wife:
3 Aug 1822: Notice – “‘Whereas my wife, Celia Stevens has left my bed & board….’ – Samuel Stevens”
10 Aug 1822 – “Celia Stevens answers the notice of her husband, Samuel Stevens, saying ‘He has neither bed or board… it being mine and the fact is he left it…’”
(F. Edward Wright, Maryland Eastern Shore Newspaper Abstracts, Volume 4, 1819-1824 (Silver Spring, Md.: Family Line, 1982), page 37, entries 231-232.)
This led me to look up the term “bed and board” and, not surprisingly, it’s the basis of a legal definition of a divorce where the husband and wife are not legally separated, but are not living together either (see a modern definition here).
These posts no doubt caused a stir at the time. I would love to find the original clippings — it appears the Maryland State Archives may have them. Hmmm… Maybe after I finish the client project.
This elaborate tombstone in Easton, Md.’s Spring Hill Cemetery caught my eye because of its blueish hue, which stood out from the granite and marble surrounding it, and because of of its elaborate carvings:
The inscription on his stone indicates that Lynch fought as a Confederate soldier in the Civil War as part of the Chesapeake Battery of the Maryland Artillery.
Lynch’s gravestone is a veritable sampler of cemetery symbolism. The cannons on the stone may be meant to commemorate his military service. The anchor could have several meanings. According to this site on gravestone symbols, the anchor could mean hope or eternal life and/or could indicate the deceased was a sailor or even a Mason. According to the Association of Gravestone Studies (yes, there is such a thing; link opens a PDF), the anchor may also symbolize strong faith or steadfastness.
The wreath of flowers could mean victory or honor. The gravestone also features a bundle of wheat and a Lily of the Valley; the former represents harvest and the later, innocence or purity.
Taken at Spring Hill Cemetery in Easton, Md.:
The inscription at the top reads In Hoc Signo Vinces:
The phrase means “by this sign thou shalt conquer,” and it is used by the Knights Templar among others.
This is a gap in the fence that separates the Tylor House in Easton from its neighbor to the south. Rumor has it that two sisters once occupied the Tylor House and the residence next door and left the gap in the fence to make it easier to visit one another. The footsteps in the snow in this pic were left by the mailman. These days, he’s the only one to make use of the pass-through.
When Wilson Tylor built the Tylor House, the parcel of land that it sat on was pretty large. That parcel has since been divided into other lots. Did he build a house on the adjacent lot for one of his daughters? Or was it a subsequent owner and her sister that were neighbors? I’ll need to do more digging into the history of both properties to find the answer.
This headstone, found in Spring Hill Cemetery in Easton, Md., is interesting to me for a couple of reasons: the symbols accompanying the husband’s name and the lack of a death date for the wife (and I’m pretty sure she’s dead, otherwise, she’d be 132 years young).
I did some preliminary searches and was not able to find information about Mary Virginia Kirk Cannon’s death. Some might suggest that perhaps she remarried and was therefore buried with the subsequent husband. However, she would have been 81 when Everett Cannon died — that doesn’t completely rule out another marriage, but I think it diminishes the likelihood quite a bit.
There are other possible scenarios — perhaps she moved far away before she passed and was buried elsewhere. Or perhaps her family couldn’t afford to have her stone engraved with her death date.
Turning back to the symbols on the grave. The one on the left-hand side represents the Shriners, a group of Master Masons. The symbol on the right-hand side looks like the Rotary wheel symbol to me. I’d never seen either symbol on a grave before.
I saw this unusual tombstone for John J. JUMP at Easton’s Spring Hill Cemetery a couple of weeks ago. I originally thought he may have been a sailor, because the wheel on his tombstone sort of resembled a ship’s wheel, but this may not be the case. In researching symbols on tombstones, I learned that a broken wheel can simply signify a life cut short.
That would certainly be the case for Jump, who was only 35 when he died.
I returned to Spring Hill Cemetery in Easton, Md., over the weekend and happened upon a row of graves that turned out to be for one man, his three wives and one of his sons:
Unfortunately, many of the dates are wearing away and were too difficult for me to discern. I haven’t been able to find much out about the Shepards and the Thompsons. In the 1850 U.S. census on Ancestry.com, Isabella appears in William H.’s household with two other Thompson women and his children. I don’t think she is William’s wife yet (it’s only a year after Rebecca passed away) — Isabella’s name isn’t immediately after his in the schedule, as one would expect if she were the wife. Her last name is listed as Thompson and not Shepard.
I find it interesting that the Thompson women have their maiden names listed on their tombstones. I wonder if Rebecca and Isabella were sisters. It is probable that they were related in some way, and I don’t think that was unusual back then. My guess is that when Rebecca married William, she brought family members with her to live with them. When Rebecca passed away, William married one of those relatives (I haven’t been able to find proof any of this yet, it’s just a hunch).
I’m wondering if Elizabeth A. took Shepard’s last name as her own and that is why there is no other surname on her tombstone. She was not one of the Thompson women living with Shepard up to this point. Even though she survived into the 1890s, I’ve been unable to find her in any of the censuses so far. She would have been in her 50s when William H. passed away. I don’t know how likely it is that she would have remarried, but I suppose it’s possible.
William (senior, I’m assuming) is listed as a slave owner in 1860 according to the slave schedules in the U.S. census that year. In that year, William H. is living with three daughters and still has a Sarah Thompson living with him. It doesn’t appear that Elizabeth was on the scene yet.
William W. can be found living with his father in 1850, but by the 1860 census he is apprenticed to a master painter and is living with him and his family instead.